April '20

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APRIL 2020 THE SHOP 49 gear upgrades on the JL and Gladiator. I've wheeled both models and can tell you that I've put them to the test—the factory axles on them are a big upgrade from the JK. You can definitely see and feel the refined engineering in these vehicles. CHAMP: I agree, there's less of a need for re-gearing given the 8-speed transmis- sion, which is great for the consumer but bad for us. In general, it seems like the after- market doesn't have a lot of axle and shaft replacements available for these models yet. Wrangler sales softened 5% in 2019. Do you believe the Gladiator will cut into Wrangler sales, or do you believe it's leading a category all its own? SMITH: People are absolutely enam- ored with this truck. I'm browsing forums and seeing guys with F-250s trading in for a Gladiator. It can pull some Wrangler sales away, but it also has the chance to bring even more people into the fold. CHAMP: I think that's accurate. I believe it could erode some of the Wrangler sales. Really, it's a Wrangler with a truck bed—people have been screaming for a Scrambler concept for years. SEMA 2019 was the dawn of the Gladiator—they were everywhere. And really, they had a heavy overland feel. Who do you believe the Gladiator appeals to most and why? Talk through the poten- tial you foresee for the Gladiator in 2020. CHAMP: While the Gladiator has the capability to serve as a truck, many aren't using the vehicle as it's intended— like a true truck. Rather, it fits the look and feel of a certain lifestyle. There's a super-cool factor. Think about it: someone can buy a BMW 7-series for $100,000 and it's worth nothing the next year. If that same person drops $75,000 on a customized JL or Gladiator, he's the talk of the town. STEFANIE GALEANO-ZALUTKO heads up Zalutko Business Services and has been free- lance writing across multiple industries for more than 10 years. Visit the company's Face- book, Instagram and LinkedIn pages for more information, or contact her directly at to learn more about client services. New Jeeps have earned plenty of awards and new fans, leading to more and more demand for aftermarket upgrades. (Photo courtesy The Wheel Group) 2020.02.01 - Aluminum Products - Half Page, The Shop.indd 1 12/18/2019 1:11:34 PM

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